I was on a commuter train recently, heading to a Chicago suburb for drinks with friends. As I settled into my book, a young woman took the seat beside me. It was the 5 o’clock express train, and she was one of the many business professionals heading home at the end of the day. She took out a notebook, sighed a couple of times, and started writing. The heading on the page read, “July 12, 2018: Brain Dump.”
Now, I admit that I’m a curious over-the-shoulder-reader. (And if you are the guy who felt ogled at the Kansas City airport, I truly just wanted to see which Paul Auster book you were reading.) But this time my over-the-shoulder-glances didn’t register any content. I was too wrapped up in the idea of a “brain dump”—freeing items, thoughts, tasks, etc. from the mind by moving it to paper.
Think about it. The best time to remember anything is when it’s fresh in your mind and before you’ve moved on to something else, and for me that something else could be as mundane as, “Where did I park my car?”
On the train, as my seat mate penned her list, the sighs became fewer. I don’t know if she later used that list to create a plan of attack, but I know that’s what I’d do. Since I use TeuxDeux, my brain dump becomes to-do items, assigned to a specific day according to deadline or realistic expectations. (I don’t like lofty to-do items that follow me, unfinished, day to day. They become dead weight.)
So before you walk out of the store today, take 300 seconds to try your own brain dump. Remembering to share The New Yorker’s adaptation of Knausgaard’s “The Trouble With Dogs for a Writer” with the proven fans in your database might mean more sales of Summer this week.
And now that that’s out of my brain, I can search for my car.